|Pittsburgh's Jordan Staal can't get a second-period shot past New Jersey's Martin Brodeur. The Devils netminder won his 501st career NHL game with a 2-1 victory over the Pens.
In what was arguably his best game of the season, the New Jersey netminder made 25 saves and the Devils got two goals from Zach Parise for a 2-1 win over the frustrated Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena on Wednesday night.
''Every time I'd go somewhere before, it (No. 500) was brought up to me,'' Brodeur said after moving within 50 of Patrick Roy’s NHL record of 551 wins. ''Now that I got it in the books, it's definitely nice. There's bigger and better things ahead, but that won't be for a while. Right now I can just play hockey and we can just try to get back on the right track.''
With back-to-back wins, the Devils (9-10-2) certainly appear to be doing that. The victory was their third this season at Mellon Arena, where they are 15-3-0 in their last 18 visits.
The Penguins, however, are in last place in the Atlantic Division at 8-11-2 despite a boatload of young talent — including Sidney Crosby, who had his points streak snapped at 19 games.
Pittsburgh has dropped six of its last seven games and eight of 10. However, Crosby believes the pieces are there to right the ship quickly.
“We’re not far off at all,” the Penguins’ captain said. “We’re losing one-goal games. The bounces aren’t going our way. It’s frustrating. I’m not going to sit here and say it’s not. There’s nothing we can do but keep going and keep battling. We’ve got to make sure we stay on the same page. I wouldn’t change a whole lot.”
Perhaps that is the case — the Penguins have dropped eight one-goal games this season — but frustration clearly is setting in. Considering the strength of the Atlantic Division — the Devils moved out of last place and past Pittsburgh with Wednesday’s win — Penguins coach Michel Therrien was asked if the Penguins need to turn things around in a hurry.
“It’s still early in the season,” was Therrien’s lone response to two questions in an extremely brief press conference.
With Jamie Langenbrunner back in the mix to help the Devils’ power play, Parise was able to give New Jersey a 1-0 lead 14:50 into the opening period. Parise is confident the power play will continue to improve with Langenbrunner back in the lineup after missing the start of the season with a sports hernia.
“Jamie’s added that element of the one-timer, and making people honor him,” said Parise, who has five points in his last two games. “That’s something we didn’t have earlier. It’s opening up a lot of different plays down low. We’re not forcing plays.”
A tripping penalty on Crosby turned into a two-goal lead for the Devils when Parise potted his second tally of the night 2:33 into the third period. With the Pens’ captain — who was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct following the goal — in the box, Parise slammed home Langenbrunner’s rebound to make it 2-0.
Evgeni Malkin closed the gap to one with 12:49 to play, but Brodeur refused to completely surrender New Jersey’s lead. He made several fabulous saves throughout the night, including a pad stop on a shorthanded breakaway chance by Crosby.
“The puck just wouldn’t settle down for me,” Crosby said. “I just tried to get it away. I couldn’t deke and I couldn’t really put it where I wanted. Just a bad break. It’s tough. Brodeur made some big saves.”
With defenseman Colin White back in the lineup, the Devils were able to do a much better job of clogging up the neutral zone and slowing Pittsburgh’s offense to a crawl. White, who made his season debut, said he is still feeling some ill effects from a deflected shot in practice that damaged his right eye more than two months ago.
"I can find the puck, and I felt pretty good," White said. "It will take a couple of games to get my legs totally back under me. I'll just keep it short, keep it simple and build up my conditioning."
In the meantime, the Devils will look to build off their second straight victory of a four-game road trip that continues on Friday night at Atlanta. New Jersey coach Brent Sutter was particularly impressed with the way his team continued to battle after Malkin’s tally cut the Devils’ lead to one goal.
“What was important was that it didn’t rattle us,” Sutter said. “We just stayed to our game. Those things happen in games. But the important thing was no one got rattled by it. That’s a good sign.”
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media were used it this report.